This is ENTERPRISE (CV-6) in November, 1943, during the Gilberts campaign. The ship is camouflaged in Measure 21, with Navy Blue (5-N) on all vertical surfaces. The flight deck is stained with the earlier formulation of Flight Deck Stain #21, meant to mimic the Deck Blue (20-B) applied to the steel horizontal surfaces of the ship.
ENTERPRISE entered the Puget Sound Navy Yard in late July 1943 for a length refit period. This was the ship's first refit in a stateside yard since before the war had started. While at Puget Sound, the ship was blistered, increasing survivability and adding built-in gasoline saddle tanks. The most noticeable changes to the ship were the drastic increase in anti-aircraft armament; minor refits at the forward bases throughout 1942 and 1943 had added light anti-aircraft guns, but the Puget Sound refit increased the ship's anti-aircraft battery to fifty 20mm Oerlikon cannons, plus six quadruple and eight twin 40mm Bofors mounts. The ship's fire control systems were entirely reworked, with the original Mark 33 directors being replaced by Mark 37 directors with Mark 4 "FD" radar. ENTERPRISE's radar fit was also entirely reworked: SK air search was mounted above the large and distinctive tripod foremast, with the SM height finder aft. The foretop housed an SG surface search antenna, with a YE homing beacon above. A second backup YG beacon was fitted above the main top, and a backup SC-2 air search antenna was mounted on a platform bracketed to the starboard side of the funnel. TBS tactical radio antennas were fitted to railing around the funnel top, along with a BL "Stovepipe" IFF antenna.
Immediately after emerging from Bremerton, ENTERPRISE went to sea to support the invasion of the Gilbert Islands as part of Task Force 50.2 (the Northern Carrier Group). Embarked aboard the ship was Carrier Air Group Six, composed of Fighting Squadron 2 (VF-2), flying F6F-3 Hellcat fighters, Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6), in TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bombers, and Bombing Squadron 6 (VB-6), in SBD-5 Dauntless dive bombers. Commanding Air Group Six was LCDR Edward "Butch" O'Hare, who had received the Congressional Medal of Honor flying from the LEXINGTON (CV-2) off Bougainville in February 1942, where he had shot down five Japanese bombers attacking his carrier. O'Hare was later killed by friendly fire leading a night time "Bat Team" off ENTERPRISE.
ENTERPRISE and Air Group Six would support the operations in the Gilberts and the raid on Kwajalein before returning to Pearl Harbor in December.
This is ENTERPRISE in July 1944, shortly after the Marianas Turkey Shoot. The ship is still camouflaged in Measure 21.
ENTERPRISE embarked Carrier Air Group 10 in January 1944. Air Group Ten was bolstered by four F4U-2(N) Corsair night-fighters equipped with early AIA radar; these aircraft were part of a detachment from Night Fighting Squadron 101 (VF(N)-101). Additionally, Air Group Ten was one of the final carrier air groups to operate the venerable SBD Dauntless dive bomber - it would be replaced by the SB2C Helldiver beginning in 1944.
ENTERPRISE and Air Group 10 would participate in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, where the ship's air group would claim 32 enemy air-to-air kills and 3 ships damaged.
This is ENTERPRISE in August 1944 after a refit period at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. The ship emerged from its refit period painted in camouflage Measure 33/4Ab. The flight deck has been stained with the later formulation of the #21 Flight Deck Stain, which more closely matches Deck Blue (20-B). The flight deck has also been re-striped with a more prominent pattern.
After the refit period at Pearl Harbor, ENTERPRISE embarked Air Group 20. This was the first air group aboard the ship to operate the SB2C Helldiver dive-bomber. Air Group 20's fighting, torpedo, and bomber squadrons were also supported by four F6F-3(N) Hellcat night-fighters equipped with AN/APS-6 radar for night time intercept. These aircraft were originally part of Detachment ABLE from Night Fighting Squadron 78 (VF(N)-78), but they were eventually incorporated into VF-20. Air Group 20 carried a white equilateral triangle on the vertical stabilizer as the group's unique identifier.
This is ENTERPRISE in January 1945, after the ship's conversion to a night carrier (CV(N)-6). Unmodified from her prior appearance, the ship now embarks the new Night Air Group 90 (CVG(N)-90). Composed of only two squadrons, VF(N)-90 and VT(N)-90, CVGN-90 was the smallest air group carried aboard ENTERPRISE during her later service. Night Fighting Squadron 90 flew a mix of F6F-5(N) Hellcats (with AN/APS-6 radar, visible as a pod faired into the leading edge of the right wing) and F6F-5E Hellcats (with AN/APS-4 radar, distinguishable as a small pod carried under the right wing). VT(N)-90 flew TBM-3D Avenger torpedo bombers, which were also equipped with radar. Of note is the "upside down" flight deck hull number, painted this way for unknown reasons.
ENTERPRISE and Night Air Group 90 would operate in support of the invasion of Luzon and later the strikes against Indochina, Formosa, Okinawa, and eventually mainland Japan. ENTERPRISE was hit by a kamikaze on May 14th, requiring a return to the west coast for repair. The ship was at Bremerton undergoing refit when the Japanese surrender was signed aboard MISSOURI (BB-63) on September 2nd, 1945. ENTERPRISE would then go on for MAGIC CARPET duty returning soldiers from Europe, before being placed into reserve. Despite efforts in the 1950s to preserve the ship, she was ultimately broken up at Kearny, New Jersey, in 1960.
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